MLB

Royals-Mariners Preview

The Kansas City Royals have stepped up their game when Yordano Ventura has taken the ball.

Looking to improve to 5-0 with the right-hander on the mound, the visiting Royals try to avoid losing five straight for the first time in almost two years Saturday night against the surging Seattle Mariners.

Kansas City (12-10) has managed seven runs and gone 4 for 34 with runners in scoring position during its four-game slide. Despite going 0 for 11 in that department Friday, when Seth Smith's sixth-inning homer was Seattle's only hit in the 1-0 defeat, the Royals don't seem overly concerned with their offensive struggles.

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"It's just part of it," manager Ned Yost told MLB's official website. "You just work through it."

Kansas City last dropped five straight in May 2014.

Seattle (12-10), meanwhile, has won seven of nine and is 4-1 at Safeco Field since losing its first five there.

"It's been fun," Smith said. "We show up and get ready to play and go out there and seem to be doing the big things and little things we need to do to win baseball games."

Sending Ventura (2-0, 2.35 ERA) to the mound could provide the Royals with some confidence, too. They've totaled 14 runs in his last two starts, most recently Sunday against Baltimore when he allowed a run and three hits over seven innings of the 6-1 victory.

"I have a lot of confidence right now,'' Ventura said. ''I'm executing pitches, I'm concentrating hard on working hard on and off the field.''

His teammates were particularly impressed with his poise after giving up that run during a rough first inning.

''He's matured,'' backup catcher Drew Butera said. "He's understanding himself. He's more relaxed.''

Ventura is 0-2 in four starts against the Mariners but has a modest 3.24 ERA while receiving five runs of support.

Smith is 2 for 6 with a double and a triple against Ventura. Both of his home runs plus four RBIs have come in his last five contests.

Seattle starters have a 2.03 ERA in the last four games, and Wade Miley (1-2, 7.04) hopes a solid finish in his latest outing is a sign of things to come.

The left-hander allowed three of his four runs in the first, then settled down to last 7 1/3 innings in Sunday's 9-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. It was a big step for Miley, who gave up 14 runs in 15 2/3 innings of his first three outings.

"I was getting a little frustrated with myself because I wasn't executing my pitches," he said. "So I just tried to stop thinking a little bit after that, and I was able to establish a rhythm. I started throwing down in the zone and they were hitting it at people.''

Manager Scott Servais has been impressed with Miley's resiliency through a rough start to his Seattle tenure.

"I think it speaks to the professional that he is," Servais said. "He doesn't quit, he's a gamer, he keeps going after you and he will figure it out."

Miley gave up one run in 13 1/3 innings to win both starts against Kansas City for Boston last season.

Eric Hosmer has gone 1 for 8 against him but is batting .366 during a career-high 18-game hitting streak. The 30 consecutive games he's reached base in are also a personal best.

Teammate Alex Gordon is 1 for 14 with six strikeouts in the last four.